Review Roundup: Did Critics Salute THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE?
DreamWorks Pictures' Thank You for Your Service follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they've left the battlefield.
Starring an ensemble cast led by Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole, Amy Schumer, Beulah Koale, Scott Haze, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Brad Beyer, Omar J. Dorsey and Jayson Warner Smith, the drama is based on the bestselling book by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author David Finkel.
Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay of American Sniper, makes his directorial debut with Thank You for Your Service and also serves as its screenwriter. Jon Kilik (The Hunger Games series, Babel) produces the film, while Ann Ruark (Biutiful) and Jane Evans (Sin City) executive produce.
Bruce Springsteen has also penned a new song for the movie called "Freedom Cadence" that will play over the closing credits.
Let's see what the critics had to say about the veteran film.
Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times: "Striving for the elusive goal of political neutrality, Mr. Hall has made a less jingoistic film than AMERICAN SNIPER (in the combat sequences, villainous Iraqis have been replaced with faceless ones). Instead, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE is a macho weepie, whose message - that wars are permanent for those who fight in them - has broad appeal. That Iraq seems unlikely to produce another THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES has as much to do with changes in Hollywood craft as with the divisiveness of the war. If, like its characters, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE sometimes struggles to balance staying strong with wearing its heart on its sleeve, it makes an emotional plea in a direct, effective way."
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: "Teller, continuing his streak of strong dramatic performances that include WHIPLASH and BLEED FOR THIS, delivers a powerful turn that is all the more effective for its restraint. Never succumbing to histrionics, he conveys his character's desolation with haunted eyes and stiff physicality. The supporting performances are effective across the board, with Koale making a vivid impression as the despairing Solo and Cole and Haze making the most of their relatively brief screen time. Bennett and Castle-Hughes are also solid as the wives, both supportive and fearful of their emotionally damaged men. The casting of Schumer, however, feels like a misstep. While the actress handles this rare dramatic role in unimpeachable fashion, she's simply not given enough screen time to make her appearance rise above the level of distraction. That the end credits are accompanied by a downbeat new song written and performed by Bruce Springsteen seems apt, although a little too on the nose."
Owen Gleiberman, Variety: "Yet it's Miles Teller's film. Looking like a scarred and bulked-up Elvis, he gives a physically forceful performance of many colors, playing a man of loyal, pleasure-loving VALOR who knows that he's been blessed, but who can't stop letting what happened over there trip him into despair. The camaraderie of these actors is rough, crazy, convincing. (It makes the interplay among the aging Vietnam veterans of Richard Linklater's "Last Flag Flying" sound like a Neil Simon play.) For once, you don't feel like you're watching actors portraying soldiers; they're neither too macho nor too soft - they have just the right obscene bellicosity, baptized in hormones."
Sara Stewart, New York Post: "The messy reality of military post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is at the heart of THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, a thoughtful drama which sags when it tries to shoehorn its characters into by-the-numbers plot points...the film also edges dangerously close to conferring sainthood on Adam as he runs interference for his friend. But Teller still does admirable dramatic work here, his performance a testament to the invisible pain borne by so many of our returning members of the armed forces."
Claudia Puig, The Wrap: "Given that THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE hits theaters amid a week of controversy over the U.S. president's treatment of the widow of a fallen soldier, its message about the country's ill treatment of veterans feels particularly timely. But, despite its good intentions, the film feels more like a sequel to AMERICAN SNIPE - even shooting from what looks like the same Iraqi rooftop - than an examination of PTSD-stricken soldiers and the government's inability to fully meet their needs. The association between the two films is not surprising, since THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE director Jason Hall wrote the screenplays for both movies, each based on non-fiction books."
Emily Yoshida, Vulture: "THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE is a more critical film than most in this milieu, and it's refreshingly honest about mental-health issues. Its victories are as mundane as getting through the line at Veteran's Services, or boarding a bus for a treatment facility. There's not much here to surprise or stir, and if it were a documentary it would likely be accused of not going far enough with its subject. But it doesn't do too much to justify itself as a narrative film, either, stylistically or story-wise. That would seem to be partially the point - that there is no ending with PTSD, that it's a process. But unlike the trauma endured by Adam, Solo, and Will, there's not much that lingers on after it's over."
Jesse Hassenger, AV Club: "Beyond its best little moments, the movie is addressing a serious issue, and it feels awfully churlish to complain that its earnest depictions of soldiers in psychological pain isn't novel enough, or that Koale's performance is a little shakier than Teller's, or that the movie doesn't have much to say about the Iraq War in particular, or that it eventually tries to pass off a lack of resolution as an abbreviated happy ending. But these stumbling blocks do stack up, standing in the way of Hall's best intentions."
Picture Credit: THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE Official Facebook Page